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Optimization of protocols for DNA extraction from fecal samples

High-throughput sequencing offers new possibilities in molecular ecology and conservation studies. However, its potential has not yet become fully exploited for noninvasive studies of free–ranging animals, such as those based on feces. High–throughput sequencing allows sequencing of short DNA fragments and could allow simultaneous genotyping of a very large number of samples and markers at a low cost. The application of high throughput genotyping to fecal samples from wildlife has been hindered by several labor intensive steps. Alternative protocols which could allow higher throughput were evaluated for two of these steps: sample collection and DNA extraction. Two different field sampling and seven different DNA extraction methods were tested on grey wolf (Canis lupus) feces. There was high variation in genotyping success rates. The field sampling method based on surface swabbing performed much worse than the extraction from a fecal fragment. In addition, there is a lot of room for improvement in the DNA extraction step. Optimization of protocols can lead to very much more efficient, cheaper and higher throughput noninvasive monitoring. Selection of appropriate markers is still of paramount importance to increase genotyping success. informacion[at] Sarabia et al (2020) Towards high-throughput analyses of fecal samples from wildlife. Animal Biodiver Conserv 43.2: 271–283 Doi 10.32800/abc.2020.43.0271
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The seed disperser role of macaws

The seed disperser role of macaws

Seed dispersal is one of the most studied plant-animal mutualisms. It has been proposed that the dispersal of many large-seeded plants from Neotropical forests was primarily conducted by extinct megafauna, and currently by livestock. Parrots can transport large fruits using their beaks, but have been overlooked the seed dispersers. This study demonstrates that three macaws (Ara ararauna, A. glaucogularis and A. severus) are the main dispersants of the large-seeded motacú palm Attalea princeps, which is the biomass-dominant tree in the Bolivian Amazonian savannas. Macaws dispersed fruits at high rates (75-100% of fruits) to distant (up to 1200 m) perching trees, where they consumed the pulp and discarded entire seeds, contributing to forest regeneration and connectivity between distant forests islands. The spatial distribution of immature palms was positively associated with the proximity to macaws' perching trees and negatively to the proximity to cattle paths. The disperser role of livestock, presumably the substitute for extinct megafauna, had little effect due to soil compaction, trampling and herbivory. These results underscore the importance of macaws as legitimate, primary dispersers of large-seeded plants at long distances and, specifically, their key role in shaping the landscape structure and functioning of this Amazonian biome. informacion[at] Baños-Villalba et al (2017) Seed dispersal by macaws shapes the landscape of an Amazonian ecosystem. Sci Rep doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07697-5